Pune: Lawyers and activists welcomed the new provisions of the Criminal Law Ordinance but disagreed with the death penalty and classification of women victims based on their age.
Shiv Sena MLC Neelam Gorhe, who has taken up several cases of rape survivors, said, “I welcome the death sentence as the first step towards eradicating such brutal crimes as rape. But in the past, we have seen that even after a court order of capital punishment, there have been delays of several years in implementing the order. Therefore, the government must implement laws and court orders strictly.”
Criminal lawyer Kainat Shaikh said, “The punishment should have been more harsh. But it seems the government is not serious about rooting out this menace. Also, the law discriminates on quantum of sentence for the same crime on the basis of the age group of a woman. There are also chances for misuse of this law, but there are no provisions for liability on the prosecution in case of false cases. I believe the government must also control easy availability of alcohol and narcotics, which aggravates such heinous crimes.”
Advocate Tosif Shaikh added, “The age of the accused delinquent should be 16 years from 18 years. Nowadays, many minor boys are commiting such brutal crimes. The court proceedings should be videographed so that judicial officers, including judges, act vigilantly and diligently.”
Equal rights activists concurred and said that proper implementation of the law is necessary. Kiran Moghe, secretary of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), said, “In 2012, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was introduced, which mentions stringent laws. So bringing stricter laws makes no point. Girls and women are both vulnerable.”
Child rights activist Anjali Pawar from NGO Sakhi said, “I am against the death penalty as the culprit, knowing that he will get a death sentence, may kill the victim. The government must implement laws properly as it takes years for the disposal of the cases by courts.”
“We have still failed to work at the roots of these henious crimes. In the past ten days (referring to Kathua rape case), everyone is only talking about punishment. But more than punishment, mindsets need to change. Rape culture has become an attribution, which is reflected in the entitlement of power for men. This toxic masculinity has to be addressed. How boy think about a girl, etc, needs to be taken care of,” said Harish Sadani, co-founder of Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA)
Advocate Vijayalaxmi Khopade added, “It is a welcome move by the cabinet to the extent that it enhances the quantum of punishment with respect to imprisonment. However, putting a blanket provision of death penalty on all rape cases needs to be exercised judiciously and as such should be decided as per the nature of the case, since facts and circumstances of every case are different. POCSO Act already provides for speedy disposal of cases.
However, the ground reality remains that though implemented earlier, the special courts were burdened with other types of cases too. The need of the hour is effective implementation of already existing provisions. The executive branch of the government must ensure that the judiciary is able to perform without fear and favour and is not subjected to mass pressures. Moreover, the recent amendments to criminal law with respect to rape is a mere whitewash to the original provisions of IPC and POCSO Act.”